Arriving in Florence later that night, I was on a high of euphoria provided to me from the days experience. Nothing could get me down as I walked from the train station to my thrifty little B&B I booked for my five night stay in Florence. Locanda Daniel was really quite the find on such short notice. Not only was it ridiculously close to the train station (and basically everything else) but it was also extremely affordable and very quaint. My room consisted of myself and three other patrons, none whom were currently occupying the space so it was just me and my thoughts.
Not long after I had settled in had my stomach realized that it was time to seek out the necessary sustenance to maintain my jovial attitude. I did a quick TripAdvisor search for the best places near me and was surprised to learn that I had two worthy options right outside my door. I knew in booking my hotel that it was close to the train station, but I could not have anticipated that it was also close to great restaurants, a grocery store, the Florence central market, and the historic downtown itself.
Between the two options at my disposal, one was a “cheap” and the other was a bit more on the speedy side. Since I was just in the mood for a snack of sorts, I decided to save the full meal (and wallet) deal for another night and opted for the more budget friendly choice. Two doors up I found Mostodolce, a little brewery and pizzeria. Unfortunately, I had already had my fill of pizza pie so I opted for a salad instead, but everything on the menu looked good! While I waited for this tantalizing plate-o-greens, I started up a conversation with the people next to me, who I unabashedly assumed spoke English due to the brilliant white color of their skin. Thankfully I was right and had stumbled across an older couple of Canadians. They had been in town for a few days so they gave me a few recommendations on things to do and even a couple places to eat. Interestingly enough, one of the places on their list was the restaurant right next door to this one ( the second viable choice) that I chose to put off until another night. Nice to know that TripAdvisor seemingly got it right this time
Once my meal was over, I headed back towards my room. Upon arrival I noticed I was no longer alone. What I thought to be a person of east Indian descent turned out to be a displaced Scotsman, originally hailing from Asia but born in Europe. His name was Kug (though I like to think of it more like Coug) and he turned out to be a fellow Florence foodie fanatic. After we got to know each other a bit, we were joined by the other two occupants in the late evening. They were from Kentucky and probably one of the oddest pairs of travelers I have ever seen. A guy and girl who could not be more different, but who could also not seem to stand each other for any more time than necessary. After talking to them each individually, Kug and I started to understand why.
As I mentioned, it is pretty commonplace to discuss travel plans and destinations with fellow travelers and this instance was no exception. As Kug began to ask the guy (whose name has escaped me) where he had been to so far, our mohawk-donning roomie must’ve listed a dozen or so places. Therefore, we got the idea that he had been traveling for a fair bit of time, but just in case, we asked. We were wrong. He had been traveling only about ten days or so. Kug and I looked at each other, looked at his forlorn and exhausted travel partner, and then looked back at him. A myriad of questions shot through my mind, but not wanting to appear too judgmental, I kept them mostly to myself. As if he had encountered this look of bewilderment before, he responded without question, “We get into one place in the morning, spend the day there, then leave at night and spend the evening in another place” so on and so forth. The purpose of his trip was to see as many heritage listed sites as possible. To me, this sounds like a complete nightmare. I know my trip was covering a lot of ground, but I felt that I had accommodated adequate time for each place (with a few exceptions of course). I couldn’t imagine seeing one place a day; in my mind, it’s a waste of a trip. While some people may say that it’s better than not seeing anything at all, I would refute that it makes no sense to see something if you can’t see it right. Although his travel companion, when asked independently, would seem to agree with me, she was already roped into this humdrum operation and she was in it until the end (which thankfully was only a few days away). She had also contracted strep throat due to the immense amount of stress and exhaustion brought on my this type of travel. Lucky for her, I still had a few spare antibiotics from my own dramatic bout with this cantankerous disease. She was over the moon and even offered to pay me for them but seeing and hearing about what she had put up with, I felt too sorry to accept payment. Also, I got them for free.
Despite their (or more like his) crazy travel philosophy, talking to them was informative for at least one reason: Cinque Terre. They were leaving the next morning bright and squirrely in hopes of accomplishing all five towns in the morning and heading off to Venice in the evening. Normally, when people go to Cinque Terre, it is recommended that they stay a night in one of the towns, or just outside, so they can really revel in the experience. These guys were basically running through them like a marathon.
Originally, I wasn’t planning of going to Cinque Terre because it seemed like a tight squeeze on an already tight schedule and I had heard from many people that it had become extremely touristy and overrated. But, with the extra time in Florence, I figured it might be nice to just check it out for a day. I was not in any way interested in staying there, especially after looking at the prices. So, even though these crazy Kentuckians were just that (crazy), they had also worked out the train trip to get there, back, and in-between in less than a day; this I had to give them credit for, and also interested in copying.
Now Kug, on the other hand, had no idea what I was talking about. It would seem that Cinque Terre is a place that only Americans have been brainwashed by because the people of the surrounding countries in Europe have little to no idea this place even exists. So, not wanting to him to miss out I Googled it and the images made his eyes nearly pop out of his head. In a matter of minutes, he had extended his stay and invited himself to join me on my future adventure. Of course this was no problem for me since I wanted the company.
The hour was growing late and our roommates had a very early train to catch. Having both heard their plans and made our own, we were all ready to hit the hay. It wasn’t long before my head was filled with the idyllic dreams of what Florence had to hold, having already had such great success in my first few hours. And believe you me, the fun did not stop there.